Don’t Stop – Do More! From Women’s March to Immigrant Protests – The Power of Activism

“What does p***y mean?” asked my curious, cold and tired 9-year old surrounded in a sea of pink p***y hats outside the ornate gold & grey Civic Center in San Francisco. I skirted around the definition – wondering how comfortable we’ve gotten with the word in the current political context. Two older ladies in their 60s smiled generously at my little boy. “Your daughters and wife will be so proud of you someday, and you’ll be a feminist won’t you?” they slyly planted ideas in his impressionable buzzing brain. 

Oh how I loved the confluence of like-minded women protesting this election and the assault on their identity. It was a celebration of hope in the haphazard and mostly self-directed protest and a voice about everything – women’s rights, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, #ClimateChange, #BlackLivesMatter, and #HeWithShe movements. We celebrated with creative handcrafted signs, laughed at our misery – but we were all together! Images of protests from around the world poured in from Europe to Asia to Latin America (NY Times) – a perfect mix of raunchiness, political awareness and tactlessness.

How proud I am of this version of America! A tempered yet peaceful rallies by the millions showcasing the true tenor of this country – tolerant, hopeful, audacious, yet a bit confused about the way forward from here.

munira_ahmed-jpg-photo-via-ridwan-adhami-illustration-by-shepard-fairey
Credit: Slate, Munira Ahmed’s Photo via Ridwan Adham, and Illustration by Shepard Fairey

(Print your own via The Amplifier Foundation link)

This was January 21st, 2017 and I walked away from the protest inspired, though knowing all too well there is a point at which protest fatigue sets in. I also fully understand and empathize with the criticism from Kara Brown of Jezebel – will this movement sustain, will anyone show up for social injustices afflicted on minorities (example where were these people during #BlackLivesMatter protests?), will this protest only result in a selfie-with-the-best-sign event instead of a call-to-action?

jezebel
Credit: Jezebel
Identity matters! I do feel strongly that this protest was a culmination for several disparate identities (not exclusive) – Women, LGBTQ members, African Americans, Asian Americans, Muslim Americans, Latin Americans, Liberals, concerned citizens to find a common platform and re-learn how to demonstrate. I do hope to see all these crowds at every important social movements going forward – but I too am skeptical because unless the crowd identifies with the movement they are unlikely to show up. 

However there has been a heartening show of solidarity in the midst of travesty. As it happens, thousands protested for the immigrants and refugees outside airports this weekend after the #MuslimBan (NY Times article). Tim Cook (Apple’s CEO) and Sundar Pichai (Google’s CEO) immediately issued memos to their employees with strongly worded concerns about the policy. Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin joined the SF Airport protest against the immigration order.

However, all this may not be enough at the end of the day to return the power of the democracy in the hands of the people! And that is the reason we must consider other constructive ways to engage, while continuing to protest and be energized. 

So what is the THREE actions you can take now?

  1. Raise Your Voice – Write a postcard to your Senators! The Women’s March website makes it easy for you. Visit the website here to print your own card or order a professional one. There’s also call to action – 10 things in 100 days – let’s sustain it!
  2. Get Involved – Get to know your local politicians and impact change from ground up! Reach out to the local constituents and make sure we SHIFT LEFT!
  3. Donate – Support the institutions that help represent and protect refugees and vulnerable communities – Doctors Without Borders, Planned Parenthood, ALCU are some critical organizations needing your support.

So don’t stop believing and continue marching forward. Share ideas about how to make this movement more successful. 

Here are pictures from San Francisco’s Women’s March to inspire us all. 

 

Read More:

  1. The Best, Nastiest Protest Signs From the Women’s March on Washington

  2. A Q-and-A With the Muslim Woman Whose Face Has Become a Symbol of Trump Resistance

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